Steve Rayner is the Layout Coordinator
The idea for the Western Ridge N scale layout began when the existing Branch N scale layout West-N-Trak was in need of major upgrading. That layout, however, had been in existence for many years and had been exhibited at least five times by our Branch, [plus several by its previous owners] albeit in slightly different forms, at the Claremont Show.
It was felt that it was time for something new, rather than invest the capital just to keep the old layout going. The majority of the old modules were put out to pasture and those remaining formed the basis for a smaller layout [Frans River Line] which can be read about elsewhere.
WesterN Ridge, or the Ridge as some like to call it, was a radical departure from its predecessor in that it had no operating well inside, instead it was designed around a central backboard [skyboard] so that the operators stood on the outside of the layout thus viewing it as the public do when exhibited.
The Ridge was planned to be viewed from all sides. This has the added advantage of easy communication with the viewing public as well as easing the strain on back muscles when crawling underneath to operate from inside. Another departure was the introduction of grades, rather than the flat rail level of its predecessor. Even though it has a continuous double track mainline it has several sidings, yards and branches which give it the ability to be operated as a real railway. That means the trains have a purpose and a reason to run, instead of just going round and round. It also means the operators need to drive their trains like real ones. It will also need signalmen and shunters, thus involving more people in the fun of operation.
The Ridge was designed to incorporate an overhead canopy with hidden indirect lighting giving it a theatrical stage like effect. Although work has commenced on this aspect of the layout, the priority is the layout itself and the lighting valance will be assessed later.
The Ridge was conceived to be and will, hopefully, become a show piece to display the abilities and talents of our Branch’s experienced modellers, while at the same time teaching the newer modellers the wonderful art of model railroading.